How to Buy and Own Property in Mexico as an American

Mexico’s incredible mix of rich history, iconic cities, and diverse landscapes have long made it a popular destination for Americans looking to invest in international land. Whether you’re looking to start a new life abroad or are interested in a vacation home, finding and purchasing land in Mexico is relatively simple.

If you’re starting to toy with the idea of looking for land in Mexico, here are all the things you should consider.

How to buy land in Mexico as a foreigner

Politics, the pandemic, and a handful of other factors have led to a boost in the real estate market in Mexico, and more and more Americans are heading south to find property.

That’s because it is relatively easy for Americans to purchase and own property across Mexico, with an exception being land on the beach or near borders (although there are some workarounds).

For the most part, there are no restrictions on the ownership of residential property in Mexico — meaning you can hold the title in your own name, or you can choose to hold it in a trust. Where things get tricky is when the property is near the coast or an international border.

Special considerations for land on the coast or near the border

If you’re eyeing a piece of property in either of these areas, you’re in luck because up until a few years ago it was nearly impossible for foreigners to purchase these types of properties. However, in recent years there have been some changes to the law and updates that make it possible.

If an American, or any foreign buyer, wishes to purchase land in these prime areas, they will need a fideicomiso. This is a renewable and transferable bank trust (that lasts for 50 years) that allows foreigners to acquire absolute and irrevocable ownership rights to property in Mexico.

The bank will hold the legal title of the property but appoint all of the rights of property ownership to the purchaser. This gives you the power to sell, lease, change, use, etc., with the property.

Apart from purchases that require a fideicomiso, buying property is about the same as what’d you expect in the U.S.

The steps to buying property in Mexico

    • Find a realtor or search for your dream property solo.
    • Document the deal with a sales contract, but be aware that the legally binding document will be in Spanish as it is Mexico’s official language, but your realtor should provide a copy in English if needed.
    • Pay the deposit, which is typically around 5-10% of the sale price.
    • A notary will step in to help with the last few steps, such as getting permission to complete the purchase. You’ll need to sign an agreement that you’ll be bound by Mexican law in any real estate dealings. In Mexico, notaries are appointed by the state governor and must be an attorney with at least five years of experience. This means they will be your representative in the process and not represent the seller or be an impartial third party.
    • Pay your closing costs, taxes, and fees, and within three months of your closing date, the Public Registry will issue the final deed (escritura) to your property.

Some of the most popular areas for retirees and/or investors have consistently been San Miguel de Allende, Riviera Maya, and Los Cabos. Now that you have a better idea of what to expect, you can start browsing potential properties in Mexico!

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